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Recommended Re-Viewing: Larry David Is The Perfect Isolation Companion

Watching 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' during lockdown is a soothing reminder that petty human dramas will one day return

curb your enthusiasm
Esquire

Recommended Re-Viewing is a series in which we make the case for re-watching an old film or TV series which you can stream without leaving your house. It might be a plot that's so bad it's good, a scene which deserves more interrogation or a director's underrated gem.

For Esquire's content director Will Hersey, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is a tonic in a time of upturned social norms and Larry David the perfect isolation companion.


Since the first day of lockdown, it’s been hard for me to stop thinking about Larry David.

Admittedly, I was already watching season 10 of Curb Your Enthusiasmim电竞官网- – a return to form – before Corona, so he was front of mind anyway. And it was already strangely prescient: the ‘spite’ coffee shop Larry opens has a full bottle of hand sanitiser on every table.

“Who can resist Purell?” he says of America's go-to brand. “Anytime you see it, you’re drawn to it.”

im电竞官网-Here was a man built for the age of personal distancing, constant hand-washing and self-isolation. And as the new etiquette rules of lockdown life emerged, it was hard not to imagine how Larry would handle these fresh social norms – video calls, delivery drivers, home workouts, supermarkets, the NHS clap, joggers. Oh boy, there would be a whole episode on joggers.

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im电竞官网-Thank God then for a this month, where we peeked into the real Larry’s isolation life. Turns out he likes FaceTime, he’s growing a beard – “any facial hair is very beneficial for the bald man” – and he despises hoarders: “if I (later) walk into someone’s house and stumble onto 50 rolls of toilet paper in a closet somewhere, I will end the friendship. It’s tantamount to being a horse thief in the Old West.”

He’s also watching Ozarkim电竞官网- like everyone else and sees the lack of social invitations as one of the clear positives: “You don’t have to make up any excuses.” The things he fears most? “Anarchy and a potential dental emergency – and not necessarily in that order.”

Another reason to keep turning to Larry is for Curb’s reassuring and unrelenting triviality. The show is built on lampooning the nuances of human interaction in micro-detail so in a time when there isn’t any human interaction at all, it’s almost nostalgic to see him arguing over splitting the bill or drinking cold coffee. We can live a normal life vicariously through him. And without as much conflict.

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For me, Season 3 is Curb at its most perfect. It’s into its swing enough to know exactly what it’s doing but before its halfway dip when it became a little contrived and OTT; when Larry too often acted like a douchebag instead of the misunderstood misanthrope we could root for.

im电竞官网-And crucially it’s before he started doing that “prettay, prettay good” catchphrase that seemed so out of place with the show’s philosophy and nearly sank the whole enterprise. Thankfully, it recovered just in time by seasons 9 and 10.

There are great episodes in every series of course but in season three, the lo-fi tone remains and Larry has his “guy just trying to be himself in a crazy world” schtick nailed. We can still - most of the time at least - sympathise with every drama that befalls him.

There are other episodes with more dramatic set-pieces, more convoluted plot tie-ups, but episode 8 – 'Krazee-Eyez Killa' – remains a stand-out.

Larry starts the episode stamping on some bubble wrap at an engagement BBQ, wondering why his wife Cheryl has a problem with it. He wants to leave, it’s not his thing, but first he has to chat with the host, a rapper who’s newly engaged to Cheryl’s friend Wanda – Krazee-Eyez Killa, played perfectly by Chris Williams. Krazee-Eyez asks Larry, a writer, for some advice on lyrics.

“I would lose the motherfucker at the end,” Larry replies, “because you already said fuck once, you don’t need two fucks; you already got the one fuck. I would change the motherfucker to bitch.”

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im电竞官网-Krazee is sold, also revealing he’s not exactly a one-girl guy and has a predilection for cunnilingus, asking Larry if he is too: “It’s a whole to-do” he says, “plus it hurts my neck”.

Larry then visits the new house of his friends Jeff and Susie to pick up a script. He loves it, it’s great, he says all the right things but when Susie offers him the tour, Larry doesn’t budge. “You know what? That’s ok… it’s bedrooms, bathrooms, I get it.”

It’s a stand we’ve all wanted to take at some point and he almost doesn’t deserve the response: “Get the fuck out. Freak of fucking nature doesn’t want the house tour.” Two all-time Curb scenes delivered in the first five minutes. A hard standard to live up to but it does.

im电竞官网-When Larry inadvertently tells his wife about Krazee’s cheating ways, she says she’s going to tell Wanda, putting Larry in the firing line.

“I will be Antartica, that’s how far from Southern California I will be,” he says. “I want to live. I want to have both legs, my penis and my testicles intact.”

curb your enthusiasm
HBO

We know that dialogue on the show is largely improvised and it comes off to memorable effect during a perfectly judged and very believable interchange with a clothes shop assistant, who won’t let Larry fold up a jumper himself because they have a particular way of doing it.

im电竞官网-Within a minute we go from pleasantries to Larry being banned from the shop - “Do you think I’d send anybody to this piece of shit store?” - except he needs the jacket for the reshoot of a Martin Scorsese film the next day.

After phoning the listings trying to get an address for Krazee-Eyez – “maybe there’s an 'h' on the end of Killah?” - he visits him in person.

im电竞官网-This time when he’s offered the house tour, he’s learned his lesson and doesn’t decline. “I was thinking of putting a plasma screen on the ceiling and having Scarface playing 24/7,” Krazee-Eyez says when he shows him the bedroom.

im电竞官网-There’s even a late cameo from Martin Scorsese, who puts in a surprisingly good performance, almost taking on the tone of one of his gangsters when talking to an assistant: “He’s [Larry] going to kill me, this guy. How many more scenes do we have with him?”

As is the norm, the various strands are all tied up in a fitting denouement, which shows just how hard Curb im电竞官网-must be to write.

It’s pretty old-fashioned comedy when you think about it – an unconventional guy who goes about his day getting in to various scrapes, constantly in trouble with his wife, harks back to the likes of WC Fields and Laurel and Hardy - which could be another reason why a regular dose of Curbim电竞官网- is hitting the spot right now.

Watching it in the evening during lockdown is a soothing reminder that petty human dramas will one day rise again.

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